The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

House Representatives Call for Cuts in Bottled Water Spending

Report: Congress Spent $860K on Bottled Water Over a Year Despite Cheaper, Greener Options


Following calls to trim the budget as well as to live up to its
sustainability goals, today members of the U.S. House of Representatives
supported calls to cut bottled water spending on Capitol Hill.

The announcement came at an event releasing a report by the
nonprofit Corporate Accountability International documenting that the
House spent at least $860,000 on bottled water - or almost $2,000 for
each House member - over a year's time.
More than 65,000 messages asking House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
"to cut wasteful spending and eliminate bottled water purchases from the
House budget" also were delivered and shared with reporters. The
messages were gathered by Corporate Accountability International, and Food and Water Watch.
"Congress is spending almost a million dollars annually on bottled
water for itself that often carries misleading claims of purity, when
water of equal or better quality is available through the public
drinking water system installed here in the House," said Representative
Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). "Let's start cutting close to home and
shifting our priorities from an entirely unnecessary expense to
reinvesting in our nation's public water infrastructure."
The study, "Tapping Congress to Get Off the Bottle," examined the
Congressional expenditures on bottled water from April 2009 through
March 2010. It found that, if Congress redirected money spent on bottled
water, it could purchase more than 4,000 drinking fountains,
'bottle-less' coolers and water filtration units on Capitol Hill - more
than enough for each Congressional office and a one-time investment in
water infrastructure that would show Americans that Congress is serious
about saving money and supporting public water.
The study also found that 70 percent of the bottled water was
purchased from industry leader Nestle, with most of the remaining coming
from bottlers DS Waters and Culligan.
"The bottled water industry has manufactured demand for an
essential resource that already flows from our taps," said Kristin
Urquiza, Think Outside the Bottle Director for Corporate Accountability
International. "The marketing has been so effective that even the
national body responsible for funding and stewarding public tap water is
unnecessarily spending close to a million each year on the bottle."
"If fiscal responsibility is the aim of the incoming Congress, I
would remind them that our tap water costs about a penny a gallon, and
bottled water costs hundreds of times more," said George S. Hawkins,
general manager of the District of Columbia's Water and Sewer Authority,
who spoke at the report's release today. "Choosing tap protects the
environment, too, from the harms of plastic bottles."
Bruce Williams, mayor of nearby Takoma Park, MD, attended the
event. "Our city officials felt like we needed to step up our efforts to
be a greener place, and one easy thing to do was to have city
government get off the bottle," he said. "We started with ourselves,
voters appreciated that, and now it's time for all of Congress to do the
"When every penny counts, we cannot afford to spend taxpayer
dollars on bottled water," said Environmental Working Group senior
legislative analyst Jason Rano. "Instead, our leaders should focus on
protecting and rebuilding our country's crumbling drinking water
"Bottled water is an elaborate scam designed to strike fear among
the public that tap water is somehow unsafe to drink," said Food and
Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. "This is a real
opportunity for members of Congress to step up and demonstrate their
faith in public tap water systems by slashing spending on wasteful,
unnecessary bottled water from their budgets."
The study recommends a series of actions by Congress:

*Phase out or reduce congressional spending on bottled water in both the House and the Senate;

*Further the investigation of the bottled water industry's
regulation and increase congressional pressure on the industry to
improve its transparency and disclosure practices; and

*Bolster support for our public water systems through programs and
policies that boost public funding for, and investment in, water

To read the full report, visit: